Save the Date: NBCC at PEN World Voices Festival, April 25-May 1, 2011

By Jane Ciabattari

The National Book Critics Circle is sponsoring two special presentations at the upcoming PEN World Voices Festival, APril 25 to May 1, 2011, in New York City.

1. The work of critics will be highlighted at this year's festival by a group of “Stand-up Critics,” all National Book Critics Circle members and board members.  At the beginning of each festival event, a stand-up critic will take the stage to introduce five titles of his or her choice that are important to world literature. The list of must-reads will include 1) a contemporary American novel 2) A translated book 3) A classic 4) A small/indie-press title 5) A surprise. Be sure to catch them all. The list of 30 titles will be available on the festival website starting April 25.

Stand-up critics include Eric Banks, NBCC President, former editor, Bookforum; Jane Ciabattari, former NBCC President (2008-2011), NBCC VP/Online, PEN member, reviews in Bookforum,, Daily Beast, LA Times); Rigoberto Gonzalez, NBCC VP/Treasurer, PEN member, Guggenheim fellow; Lev Grossman, former NBCC Board member, Time book critic; Laura Miller, former NBCC board member, Salon critic, and Roxana Robinson, PEN Board member, critic, author.

2.The Next Decade in Book Culture: Wednesday, April 27, 2011. 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Renee Weiler Concert Hall, Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow Street, NYC.

Participants: Morris Dickstein, Carsten Jensen, Herve Le Tellier, Fintan O’Toole, and Cynthia Ozick. Moderated by Jane Ciabattari

The critic’s voice indelibly shapes the works we read. But in an age when readers are rapidly migrating to Twitter book clubs, literary websites, and Amazon reviews, how will the critic continue to lead literary conversations? Join a conversation about the new power of the book review and the emergence of a unique reader experience in the age of the digital revolution.

Free and open to the public. No reservations.

Morris Dickstein is distinguished professor of English and Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a senior fellow at the Center for the Humanities, which he founded in 1993. His book Gates of Eden was a finalist for an NBCC award in criticism in 1978. His most recent book, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, also was an NBCC finalist in criticism.

Carsten Jensen has worked as a literary critic and a journalist, reporting from Chinca, Cambodia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Afghanistan. His publications include I Have Seen the World Before, Earth in the Mouth, and We, the Drowned. In 2009 he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize.

Herve Le Tellier is a French writer and linguist and a member of the international literary group Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, which translates roughly as “workshop of potential literature.” Four of his books have been translated into English thi syear, including Enough about love (Other Press) and The Sextine Chapel (Dalkey Archive).

Fintan O'Toole is a columnist and assistant editor at The Irish Times. He has been a drama critic for the New York  Daily News and the Sunday Tribune. His most recent book is Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic.

Cynthia Ozick is a highly acclaimed short story writer, novelist, and essayist. She was shortlised for the 2005 Man Booker International Prize. In 2008, she was awarded the PEN/Malamud award for excellence in the short story. Her book of essays, Quarrel & Quandary, won the NBCC award for criticism. She has been a multiple finalist for NBCC awards in fiction and criticism. Her sixth novel,Foreign Bodies, is a reframing of Henry James's The Ambassadors.

Moderator Jane Ciabattari is author of the short story collection Stealing the Fire. Her reviews and features have appeared in Bookforum, The Guardian online,, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Salon, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Columbia Journalism Review, among others. She serves as VP/Online for the National Book Critics Circle and just finished a three-year term as NBCC president.